If you are asking yourself “Should I Become a Truck Driver in 2024?” there are many things to consider before you take on the challenge of doing your training and getting a license.
Before you switch careers you should make sure you are comfortable with the truck driver lifestyle. You should know what type of driving career would best suit you.
Mike Zelek, Director of Operations at Drive Linx, provides some insight for those asking “Should I Become a Truck Driver”. He digs into the truck driver lifestyle, specifically, the pros and cons of long haul vs short haul truck driving.
Take our FREE “Should I Become a Truck Driver Quiz: Long Haul vs Short Haul” at the end of this article to find out what type of truck driving lifestyle and job is best for you!
What Is The Truck Driver Lifestyle Like?
Driving a truck can be a very rewarding career if you know what you are getting into.
It is easy to glamorize the job, you think that every trip will be paid travel to new places. We can assure you this is not the case. The truck driver lifestyle can often be difficult for those with young families, particularly if you drive long-haul drivers.
When you drive through these places, you are on a highway and won’t have time to take in the scenery. You cannot simply stop your trip to view a tourist attraction or to eat a famous restaurant; you have a delivery that you need to make and will be in a constant battle with your hours of service.
Every once in a while you might be able to do a reset somewhere nice. This means that you are probably spending three weeks away from home with only two days to enjoy your destination.
How Will I Get Paid as a Truck Driver?
You can earn a lot of money driving a truck but you have to do your research. Every recruiter you meet will tell you about how financially rewarding driving for their company is.
There will be a fancy rate sheet that is used to confuse the driver into thinking that they will make more money than they actually will.
The words that I hate the most are “you could earn up to X amount”. The sad reality is that the amount you earn is largely out of your control.
If business is slow, the driver is unable to create new loads. You are at the mercy of your dispatcher/planner and you need to hope that they can keep you moving.
I believe that a lot of new drivers underestimate the hours needed to work to earn a lot of money.
These days a hardworking driver can earn $80,000 or more in a year. That usually means working up to 70 hours per week. So your total income is impressive but in reality, it works out to around $22 per hour.
There are many jobs where you can earn $80,000 if you are willing to put in that much time. Plus all this time on the road leaves little time at home to spend time with your family.
Long Haul vs Short Haul Trucking
When trying to decide on your next driving job you need to consider whether you want to be a Short Haul Driver or a Long Haul Driver. The trucker driver lifestyle is very different between them.
Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages so I am going to go over a few of them. Keep in mind that each person is different. There will be some people that you couldn’t pay enough to do Long Haul. Others couldn’t get paid enough to run Short Haul.
What is Long Haul Truck Driving?
Long Haul trucking is typically defined as driving farther than 200-300 miles from home or the company terminal. Drivers can be away from home for up to 2 weeks sometimes.
You will cross borders often and be paid per mile traveled, not by hour.
Life on the road involves sleeping in your truck and often cooking for yourself using a microwave in a portable BBQ. You will be using the washroom and showering in truck stops when you stop to fuel up or park for the night.
Pros and Cons of Long Haul Truck Driving
One major benefit of being a Long Haul Driver is all the freedom that you have. Aside from checking in with dispatch every once in a while, you are on your own. You can spend the day listening to music or a podcast while enjoying life on the open road.
You will also encounter less traffic provided you plan your day well and do most of your driving in non-peak hours.
Life on the road
If home time is something that you value, being a Long Haul Driver might not be the best option. Any trip that is over 300 miles (one way) likely means that you will be away for at least one night.
If you do trips from Toronto to Texas or California you could be away for up to 12 nights. There are so many variables in transportation that there are no guarantees that you will be home on time for a pre-planned event, like a kid’s birthday party, sports game, or graduation.
Team driving is driving with another person in the same truck. The truck keeps moving 24 hours a day except for stopping for breaks and gas. While one person is driving, the other is sleeping or resting. It’s not uncommon to see married couples team drive
Long Haul Drivers typically have the newest trucks on the fleet. They log the most miles and would be the most costly to repair if they break down far from home. But being on the road for so long means that you will be living in a small bunk that is far smaller than even the tiniest studio apartment.
You are limited to what you can cook, many find it tough to maintain a healthy diet on the road.
You typically earn more per mile if you are a Long Haul Driver. There is a financial incentive to stay out on the road.
Sleeping in your truck isn’t as bad as you might. Truck sleeper cabins have come along way over the years. Have a look at the inside of the Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft.
What is Short Haul Truck Driving?
Short haul trucking is defined as driving within 200-300 miles to home. You can be home at the end of the day and sleep in your bed each night. As this is a better work/life balance, it doesn’t pay as much as long-haul truck driving.
Pros and Cons of Short Haul Truck Driving
Short Haul Drivers are home every night and are home more than Long Haul Drivers. There will still be traffic/construction which will mean you get home late. Still, very rarely will you be stuck on the road overnight.
Your truck will probably be one of the older ones in the fleet. You will be spending your day navigating through traffic and backing in and out of docks 5-10 times per day.
Short Haul usually pays hourly, so you do not suffer if there is a truck breakdown or major congestion.
You are more inclined to spend time waiting in a dock than a Long Haul Driver simply because you go to more pickups and deliveries.
You will also spend a lot of your day communicating with dispatch. Plans can change often and there are more appointment times to be made. So that can add to your stress level.
Ultimately, there are benefits and drawbacks to both positions. If you like driving and want to see North America, Long Haul driving is for you.
If you can handle traffic and don’t mind navigating yourself around the city, Short Haul is for you. Whatever option you choose, make sure you drive safely because no load is more important than your life.
Should I Become a Truck Driver Quiz: Long Haul vs Short Haul
Now that you have read about the differences between long-haul and short-haul driving, try our free quiz below!
If you are asking yourself “Should I Become a Truck Driver?” this will help you understand which type of truck driving lifestyle you will be better suited for.